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The paragraph A paragraph is a group of sentences that relate to one idea. Sometimes a paragraph can be a stand alone paragraph or it can be part of a larger essay or document. The stand alone paragraph has three main points. Topic Sentence Several Main points Supporting Sentences Concluding Sentences
The Topic Sentence The topic sentence has two main components
Opinion about the topic. “Even though working and going to school full time can be challenging at times, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.”
Two sentences Poor Topic Sentence: Reasons to learn to write. Revised topic sentence: Learning to become a better writer can help you to be more successful in achieving your educational, career, and personal goals. Discussion: The poor sentence would not serve as an adequate topic sentence because there is no verb, opinion, or complete thought. The revised sentence has all of the required components.
Structure of the Topic Sentence
Supporting Sentence The body of your paragraph will include specific main points with details and examples that support the opinion in your topic sentence. While there is no magic number of supporting sentences, you will usually need at least three to five sentences to support your main idea in an academic paper. You will want to have enough sentences to fully develop your main topic. Keep in mind that college writers are more likely to have too few supporting sentences than too many. Also, make sure that your paragraph is unified. In other words, every idea you include must help support the opinion in your topic sentence
Transitions Use transitional words and phrases throughout your paragraphs to help signal your reader when you are changing direction or moving to a new point. Transitions will help your writing to be more coherent for the audience because they serve to bridge ideas. Without transitions, your readers might not understand the connection you are trying to make between two ideas.
Page 52 Activity
Concluding Sentence If you are writing a stand-alone paragraph, the last sentence should serve as your conclusion. Restate the main idea and opinion you introduced in your topic sentence. Be sure to use different words than you did the first time. Topic sentence: Learning to become a better writer can help you to be more successful in achieving your educational, career, and personal goals. Reworded concluding sentence: Strengthening your writing skills will enable you to become more accomplished in school, on the job, and in your personal life.
Writing an Essay
What is an essay An essay (also known as a composition) is a group of paragraphs related to a particular subject or theme. Essays are usually designed to meet one of the five purposes for writing: inform, interpret, persuade, entertain, and express feelings
Your introduction should accomplish three tasks: capture the audience's attention, state your thesis, and provide an overview of the main points you will cover in the body of the essay. Avoid beginning a paper with dull statements such as, “This essay is going to be about…” or “I'm going to explain….” Instead, start with something that will capture your audience's interest.
Attention Getters Attention-Getters The first sentence is one of the most important sentences in your entire essay. This is your one chance to convince the audience that your paper is worth reading. You will need to make the most of this opportunity. Whatever type of lead-in you choose to get your audience's attention, you will want to ensure that it effectively introduces your thesis statement. The idea is to entice your audience to continue reading your paper.
Thesis Statement The thesis statement identifies the main idea of your essay for your audience. At thesis is similar to a topic sentence, only it serves the entire essay instead of the paragraph. A thesis has the same two components as a topic sentence: the topic and your opinion. A thesis, like any complete sentence, needs to have a subject and a verb and express a complete thought.
Sample Thesis Statement
Poor thesis: Many people earn a college education. Poor thesis: The benefits of a college education. Revised thesis: Earning a college education has several benefits. Discussion: The first “poor thesis” example simply states a fact about the subject without offering an opinion. The second “poor thesis” example has a subject and an opinion, but it lacks a verb and doesn't express a complete thought. The revised thesis is a complete sentence with a subject and an opinion.
Sample Thesis Statement
Overview of Main Points
Another function of an introduction is to give the reader an overview of the supporting ideas you will cover in the body of the paragraph. This is called a forecast. Similar to a forecast that predicts the weather, a forecast in an essay helps the reader to predict what the main points will be.
Thesis with forecast: Earning a college education is beneficial because it can lead to greater self-esteem, a higher-paying job, and a better style of living. Discussion: This thesis statement suggests that the body paragraphs of the essay will explain each of the benefits mentioned: greater self- esteem, a higher-paying job, and a better style of living.
Body Paragraphs Body paragraphs are similar to stand-alone paragraphs except that they are part of a larger essay. Often they begin with a topic sentence and include several supporting sentences. Be sure to include enough details and examples to fully support your topic sentence. Be sure to include enough details and examples to fully support your topic sentence. use transitions within the paragraph to help your ideas flow smoothly and at the end of the paragraph to lead the reader into the next body paragraph.
To maintain unity in your essay, make sure every idea relates to the overall thesis of the essay.
Concluding Paragraph The last paragraph of your essay should wrap up the entire document. Similar to the introduction, the conclusion should accomplish three tasks: reword your thesis statement, summarize your main points, and end with a memorable thought. Reworded thesis in conclusion: Once you have completed your college education, you will enjoy the rewards for the rest of your life.
Last thoughts about the Conclusion
Avoid introducing new ideas Do not change your focus Avoid upsetting your readers in your conclusion. Even though you might be tempted to end with a cliché, such as “and that's the way the cookie crumbles,” end with a powerful idea that will make a lasting impression on the readers. You may use techniques that are similar to attention-getters, such as quotes, surprising statements, or thought-provoking questions.
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